Transcript for Parents blame school for not preventing bullying they say led to daughter's suicide
Tonight, a heartbreaking look at the dangers of cyber bullying through the eyes of a grieving family. Their 12 year old daughter took her own life after they say she was targeted by her classmates on social media. Now they're demanding accountability. Here's "Nightline" co-anchor, Dan Harris. Reporter: In many ways, malory Grossman was a typical 12 year old. She loved gymnastics, cheerleading and going camping with her family. Malory is the all American child, the all-American little girl. Reporter: And on June 14th, near the end of her sixth grade year, malory took her own life, because her parents say she was a victim of bullying. Now all that remains are pictures and memories. I have this cardboard box, and that's her life. That's all we're left with. 12 years. And we're left with a cardboard box. Reporter: Diane and Seth Grossman are now speaking out hoping to prevent others like malory from hurting themselves. We have been flooded with thousands of messages about other children that have been bullied and tortured and harassed. Reporter: And also, they say, to hold responsible the people they blame for their daughter's death. Tell you something like this's happening before people weak up and say enough's enough. Reporter: They realized malory was having problems at her middle school in rockaway, New Jersey. We chalked it up to the usual girls teasing kind of thing and it escalated and got more out of hand. Reporter: What are we talking about? She had a target on her back. One girl called her fat. One girl called her ugly. Reporter: Her parents say the bullying began in the classroom. Kicking her chair, not that the teachers could see, but the repetitive tapping and calling her names quietly behind her back. Reporter: Then it went digital, via text and social media. They took pictures of her on the school grounds. One post, malory asked them to take it down, and the girl wrote down "Never", with a smiley face laughing. Reporter: They started to notice disturbing changes in their daughter. It was just failing grades, miserable. And then it's got an I have a headache, a stomach ache. I don't feel like going to school. Reporter: They repeatedly complained to school officials but their complaints weren't taken seriously enough. What should they have done? When there's a repeat complaint pretty regularly, they should say we should take a closer look at this. Reporter: They did have an exhaustive meeting at the school. The only thing they said is we're investigating it. We'll look into it. I know your frustration, and malory left there feeling so depleted. She just said, you just made it worse. You don't know these girls. You've just made it worse. Reporter: She was upset. She was exhausted. I don't think she felt safe. I think that she was just really sad. Reporter: And was it that day that she died? Yeah. Hours later. Four hours later. Reporter: Although it had been a rough day, Diane and Seth say they didn't see it coming. She was gone. Just like that. I don't think you can fathom what it's like to see your perfectly healthy child gone. Thank you very much for coming. Reporter: Yesterday the grossmans and their attorney Bruce Nagle announced think plan to sue the school and possibly even the parents of the children who allegedly bullied malory. This small device can be a lethal weapon. In the hands of the wrong child. She was even told why don't you kill yourself? Reporter: And what are the goals? Because it's not just about reaching financial settlement. Look, the goal of this case is to give a wakeup call to every school in every town throughout this country. They need to know that cyber bullying is an epidemic, and they need to stop this. The major point of this lawsuit is accountability. Somebody needs to be held accountable. New Jersey has some of the toughest laws on the books in the country as far as harassment and bullying. What good are the laws if no one follows through with them. I wasn't with her eight hours a day. I wasn't, they were. I was sending them messages saying these girls are torturing her at school. She's uncomfortable. She doesn't feel safe. And they're like, we'll look into it. Reporter: The school district declined to comment to ABC news and said think cannot discuss the case because it is still under investigation. And the teachers, staff and administrators have as they have always been and will continue to be committed to protecting the rights and safety for all our students. It's all going to be dependent on the facts. It is tough to hold a school district responsible for someone else committing suicide. Even a child. So there has to be some level of proof that the school could have reasonably foreseen suicide. Reporter: In response to a request from ABC news for comment about the case, the Morris county prosecutor's office said the matter is under investigation. For now, what we know is that the heartbreaking story these parents tell is one we have heard before and sadly one we are likely to hear again. You see so many parents, so many kids in my practice that are suicidal, self-harming, they don't know whether or not think want a future in this world. Reporter: Although experts say teen suicides can rarely be attributed to just one cause, according to the cyber bullying research center, 34% of students surveyed report having been cyber bullied in their life. And adolescent girls are more likely to experience the abuse. What is it about digital technology that puts bullying on steroids? I think it's the same as somebody who's driving a car and might have road rage. Behind those glass walls, we don't think anybody notices how we're acting or what we're yelling, and that's an analogy of how kids are behind their devices. It's me, live and in stereo. Reporter: The issue of cyber bullying had been put in the spotlight this year because of the series "13 reasons why" co-produced by Selena Gomez. It chronicles a girl who left behind video for the people she left behind. At the height of the show's controversy, my colleague visited oxford high school in Michigan to talk about bullying and suicide. I would have very, very degrading texts sent to me. There was one girl who said really mean things, why don't you just go kill yourself. Reporter: The statistics are sobering. Between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is the leading cause of death. It's something that's gone through every high schooler's head at some point. That is a pretty major thing to say. Do you guys agree? Yes. Reporter: In oxford in recent years two young students took their lives. In response to the show and in honor of their classmates, a small group of brave students took a drastic step. A volleyball player. One day I heard the worst thing you can hear, they said why don't you just kill yourself. Reporter: They broadcast it. Their project called "13 reasons why not." I was afraid for the time you laid your hands on me for when I started to believe I actually would be better off dead. Reporter: The aim of their project to tell other kids like them they are not alone. The show spurred conversation for the Grossman family, although they felt it was too graphic for their 12-year-old to watch. We talked about suicide. This was an open conversation we had about suicide and what ending your life is and how permanent it is. These were open conversation. That was Halloween. Yeah. Reporter: Now they're hoping to create a national movement called "Malory's army" to prevent any more young people from dying. We want to make sure that she becomes the hero that I think a lot of children want someone to speak out and speak up for them. Reporter: For "Nightline," Dan Harris, in New York. Our thanks to Dan for that report.
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